It’s the time of year when our kids are not only getting endless illnesses but can also contract more than one illness at a time. Needless to say, it’s a lot. And the current physician shortage is already limiting access to care for millions of people across the country—pediatric patients included.
Enter: Summer Health. Initially launched as an urgent care platform in 2022, the text-based pediatric service is where parents can get answers directly from pediatricians. Now the platform is expanding into primary care. The digital health startup is the first nationwide healthcare entity to offer this kind of pediatric care to parents and caregivers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The move to primary care means Summer Health’s care teams are offering the following services to thousands of parents and caregivers nationwide:
- Unlimited access to medical practitioners assigned to each family’s account, similar to a primary pediatric practice – families are assigned a lead pediatrician and medical team for continuity of care.
- A companion app called CareHub for parents to easily manage a child’s health all in one place with visit notes, milestone tracking and treatment plans.
- Unlimited access to specialists, including sleep coaches, lactation consultants and nutritionists.
“There have been some pretty alarming statistics that have come out lately around the readiness of emergency room facilities,” founder & CEO Ellen DaSilva tells Motherly exclusively. “The Wall Street Journal published an article about two months ago that said only 14% of emergency rooms in the country are certifiably equipped to handle kids.”
If you’re thinking what a relief it is to be able to simply shoot off a text to a pediatrician about your child’s needs—whether it be a concerning cough and cold or a question about milestones—you’re not alone. Summer Health reports there are now more than 22 million millennial parents in the U.S. alone. Countless studies have shown that millennials prefer to text versus picking up the phone. It’s less daunting, it’s faster, and it’s more convenient. And now thanks to high-quality videos and images from smartphones, physicians can diagnose a wide range of conditions virtually.
Related: How to have a stress-free pediatrician appointment with your kids
“Because reimbursement rates are higher for video and in-person services, the health care system defaults there,” DaSilva says. “But as a mom of three myself, I know that parents sometimes just want a quick gut check or a second opinion from a trusted, knowledgeable source.”
Pediatrician’s offices are often underfunded and many are currently overworked and understaffed. Even kids with urgent needs sometimes can’t be seen for a same-day appointment.
“If you have an emergency, you call the after-hours nurse hotline and they’ll tell you to come in the following day and see someone,” DaSilva explains. “We’re facing an imminent crisis around this, and Summer Health is really trying to be there for the 75 million children in this country.”
The “Everyday Care” lines up a dedicated team of pediatricians and specialists for ongoing care, thanks to Summer Health’s full network of providers. Parents and caregivers are guaranteed a response in 15 minutes of less, no matter what the need. There are specialists in lactation, sleep and nutrition on staff to cover every aspect of a child’s physical wellness. For parents with behavioral or mental health questions, Summer Health has the resources to guide you.
Chelsea Clinton, Global Health Advocate and Summer Health Investor, is a huge proponent of the ease and accessibility of Summer Health services.
Related: 14 questions you may have about your newborn, answered by a pediatrician
“We know how important the early childhood years are. Every child in this country should be receiving the right standard of care,” Clinton tells Motherly. “I want our kids to grow up as healthy adults and to know what they need to continue to steward their health forward.”
DaSilva says by reaching out to pediatricians and specialists via text, parents can feel like they have a safe space to ask what they want to ask.
“Parents come back to us month after month asking questions, like ‘Hey, my child isn’t talking yet and she’s 15 months old. Should I be concerned?’ and ‘My child is going through puberty, how do I talk to her about that?’” DaSilva says. “We were fielding these questions regularly and realized many parents were going to urgent care with them when their pediatrician’s offices were too busy. Parents can be left in the lurch without many other resources than self-diagnosis.”
At @joinsummer we're diving into what parents are most concerned about going back to school. Mine:
2. Early Intervention
3. Preventing Seasonal Illness
4. Achieving Milestones
5. Gentle Parenting
What are yours? First 5 responses get a free month.
— Ellen DaSilva (@ellenjdasilva) September 19, 2023
This kind of easy, convenient, and reliable care can be invaluable to vulnerable new moms, or parents who want to ask about their children’s development without their kids in the room. And now you can have peace of mind that your child’s care team will actually get to know your child in order to treat them thoroughly and accurately.
Summer Health costs just $20 per month for their service for every age and phase of a child’s life. Pediatricians on staff can field questions on all conditions—from fevers, vomiting and diarrhea to minor cuts and scrapes, and more.
DaSilva knows that moms in particular are the primary point of contact for our kids’ medical needs, and she also knows the stigma preventing parents from contacting their child’s pediatrician due to fear of judgment—because we’re sometimes made to feel that we’re supposed to know what our kids need better than anyone?
“As mothers, as the chief medical officers of our households, there’s this undue burden on us and we’re expected to know everything, solve every problem, and figure out the solution when we really don’t have the right resources at our disposal.”